Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Johnny Mac is the man!

Is anyone else loving the fact that John McDonald is proving his worth to the Blue Jays now that he's finally getting some playing time? This guy is incredible with the glove, which we already knew, but he also displayed a bit of pop in his bat Monday against the Orioles.

You knew it the moment the ball left the bat. McDonald had gotten a hold of one, cranking the ball over the left field bleachers for his third home run of the season. What a ball player. It's astounding how easy it is to love watching this guy play, and on the contrary, how hard it is to watch someone like Vernon Wells day in and day out.

He's moved around in the infield when called upon this season also, manning shortstop, and occasionally filling in at third base and second, not to mention spot duty in left field, all the while without complaining despite the fact he's had just 23 starts on the campaign.

Johnny Mac is phenomenal!

Purcey shining since September call up

David Purcey has proven that he can be a very effective pitcher at the major league level the past two seasons. In 2008, he put together two brilliant starts against the eventual American League champion Tampa Bay Rays, allowing a solitary run in 16 innings of work. Unfortunately, he has not been able to be consistent enough, which saw him go from the number three starter in the Jays rotation at the start of the campaign to AAA Las Vegas for the remainder of the season before his recent call up.

If Purcey can string together more starts like he did Monday against Baltimore, he might just be a dark horse candidate for a spot in the rotation in 2010. In 7.2 innings of work, the big left hander struck out four batters, scattering four hits while allowing just one run, picking up his first win in the major leagues in over a year.

In fact, if not for Jason Frasor blowing a three run lead against Detroit in Purcey's last start, the 2004 first round pick would have won that game also. In his two starts since being recalled, Purcey has surrendered just 3 earned runs in 13 innings, a far cry from his five starts in April, which saw him cough up 20 runs in just under 26 innings. Purcey has excellent "stuff", perhaps the best in the Blue Jays system, but has been unable to locate his pitches very well in his brief career, constantly showing susceptibility to the base on ball (55 free passes in 104 innings) The Jays can only hope he builds off his impressive performances since being summoned from AAA to fulfill his potential.

If he can pitch like he did against Baltimore and Detroit, replicating the success against Tampa Bay last year, that shouldn't be a problem.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Bench clearing brawl shows Jays still care

Incredibly it has taken this long for the Toronto Blue Jays to take out some frustration after their miserable and despicable showing the past four months. All the aggression and pent up anger following their free fall from the top of the A.L. East boiled after in a heated brawl against the Yankees Tuesday, confirming that the Jays do indeed have a pulse.

When Aaron Hill was plunked squarely in the back by Mark Melancon in the 8th inning, it was obvious the thumping Toronto was administering on the scoreboard might not be the only tangle the team would have this night. Jesse Carlson decided to exact some revenge by whaling a pitch behind Jorge Posada, heightening the situation immensely. The benches cleared, but not much came from it initially as cooler heads prevailed.

However, when Posada got on board, later celebrating his run at home plate by elbowing Carlson, all hell broke loose. Rod Barajas stuck up for his pitcher, attacking his fellow back stopper, serving notice that it wasn't alright to bully around the diminutive lefty. The situation escalated, with everybody getting involved, with the good natured Cito Gaston having to be restrained and the rest of the Jays picking a different Yankee to have words with. I'm not exactly one to advocate bench clearing brawls, but the Jays responded accordingly, displaying that the team aren't pushovers.

Good on them. It's a welcomed sight to see the Jays have a fire lit under them and react so strongly after months of apathy and lethargy.

Encarnacion finding his groove at the dish

It took Edwin Encarnacion a while to find his groove in the Jays batting order upon his arrival at the trade deadline. The 26 year old third basemen appears to be finding his groove late in the season after a stint on the disabled list with a hamstring injury.

Encarnacion hit a solo home run Tuesday against the Yankees, his second long fly in as many games, picking up two RBI's in the series opener. In his last 10 games, including the tilt against the Yankees, the five year veteran has those two homers to go along with 11 hits and eight runs driven in.

Perhaps it's the fact he is fully recovered from his injury. Maybe it is because he has figured out American League pitching after coming over from the National League. Or, as a cynic might suggest, it could very well be related to having no pressure placed upon him for meaningless ball games in September. Whatever the case, it's a situation that the Blue Jays hope continues well into next year.

Snider smacks two huge bombs in New York

First of all, it has been far too long since my last post about the Blue Jays. It partly has to do with the fact that the club is unwatchable. But it also had something to do with the fact I was on vacation. However, I digress.

Travis Snider came up huge Tuesday in the Bronx, cranking not one, but two huge home runs against the Yankees, showcasing just how good this guy will be once he has more major league experience. The two dingers weren't just clearing the wall either. He obliterated both baseballs. The kid is still very young however, so the Jays will take the good with the bad. He whiffed in his other three at bats.

Sure, the 21 year old's batting average has been hovering around .220 for the better part of the year, and he is striking out at an alarming rate, (38 times in 29 games since being recalled), but it's the big hits that he produces that provide insight of the great things in store for the young slugger's future. His situation is very comparable to that of Adam Lind's career arc with the Blue Birds, where he took a while to hit for good average yet always had a knack for clutch hits while displaying a power stroke (and all Lind has done this year is hit .300 with 30 home runs, surpassing 100 RBI's)

The future is bright for this young stud. In Snider, we have a baller. He proved just that with his phenomenal performance Tuesday against the Yankees.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Blue Jays are practically unwatchable

Despite being a die hard supporter of the Toronto Blue Jays, I find myself having little motivation to watch the games because they are simply so hideous. This team is so awful that it's hard to watch the carnage night in and night out.

Consider that in their past 91 games, Toronto has won just 32 of those contests, trailing only the woeful Kansas City Royals for the worst record in major league baseball in that span. That dazzling 27-14 start to the campaign is strictly in the rear view mirror. In their recent 7 game road trip, where Toronto had an opportunity to play spoiler against two teams in the hunt for the A.L. wild card, the blue birds lost six of seven to Boston and Texas. The numbers are even more horrifying over the previous 21 games, which has resulted in 16 losses.

The Jays got off to their strong start with the aid of having to avoid the beasts of the American League East in the form of the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays. Now that they have been exposed playing against those tough squads, their record within the division is a measly 17-37. Without being able to see a glimpse into a hopeful bright future in the form of Aaron Hill, Adam Lind and Travis Snider, along with starters Ricky Romero and Brett Cecil, this team would be unquestionably 100% unwatchable, if they aren't already.

Snider scuffling at the dish

Travis Snider started off his second tour with the Blue Jays in August on fire, smacking three home runs in the first eight contests, but the talented right fielder has fallen drastically on hard times in the subsequent eight games.

Snider, the 14th pick in the 2006 draft, has just two hits in his last 23 plate appearances, while striking out an alarming 13 times during that span. His approach at the plate has been flawed with the 21 year old chasing at a lot of bad pitches, leading to him getting behind in counts which have resulted in bad at bats. It was the same kind of problem that led to his demotion in May after he also roared out to a quick start, but then followed that with a .192 batting average in the following 18games.

Though it could be argued that the Jays #1 prospect should have stayed in AAA longer to work on his swing, the team feels it was best to have him take his lumps at the major league level which will allow him to progress further along in his pro career. This situation is very reminiscent of Adam Lind's first few seasons of his career, where he bounced from Toronto to the minors. Lind has put it together and is now one of the games brightest young stars, and in a few years, that likely will be said of Travis Snider.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Barajas on fire with 5 HR in last 6 games

If Rod Barajas' performance in the previous six games can be attributed to return to full health following his nagging hamstring injury, or because he is he is angling for a raise in a contract year, the Blue Jays will gladly take the results they've gotten from their catcher in the past week.

Barajas smacked two more home runs Monday against Texas, marking 5 long flies in the past 6 contests to go along with a total of 12 RBI in his hot stretch at the dish. The 33 year old has now amassed 60 runs driven in on the campaign, matching a career high set in 2005.

The blue birds catcher the past two seasons, Barajas has dealt with problems with his hamstring for the better part of two months and struggled mightily in 37 contests preceding his offensive outburst, suffering through a tail spin that saw him post just 20 hits in 119 at bats for a paltry .168 batting average.

The 11 year veteran is set to become a free agent at the conclusion of the season, and with the Jays having no obvious candidate to replace him as the starting catcher in '10 (top catching prospect J.P. Arencibia has scuffled in AAA this year), he might just be handed another contract to stay with the ball club, but the more likely scenario would see him ply his trade with another team.

Lind drives in 8 RBI, one off club record

With a masterful performance Monday in Texas, Adam Lind continues to show that the future will be very bright for the 26 year old left fielder. Lind drove in an incredible total of 8 runs Monday, aided by his first career grand slam and a stellar 9th inning in which he blasted a solo shot and ripped a 3 run double in his second plate appearance of the frame. Lind's career game saw him finishing just one RBI away from matching a 31 year club record of nine runs plated in one contest.

Lind has been a regular contributor to a stumbling Jays offense all season, racking up 27 HR and 89 RBI, and even by his lofty standards, he might never amass 8 runs driven in over a course of one game again. With the pair of long flies, the part time designated hitter now is four homers away from catching Aaron Hill's club record of 31 for Blue Jay home run supremacy.

Lind will likely serve as the team's cleanup hitter next season, and the exciting thing is he might just be scratching the surface of his potential, because Manager Cito Gaston believes Lind still has a lot to learn in the batters box. Indeed, the future is bright for Lind, and hopefully, by extension, the Blue Jays.